One Eye Is Nearly Blind

"To be secularly literate and religiously illiterate produces an unbalance within the man. He finds himself with two eyes which do not focus--a strong eye which sees life as the world sees it, a weak eye which sees life as Faith declares it to be. The temptation is overwhelming to close the one eye, the weak eye naturally." [Sheed, F.J. (1957). Theology for Beginners. New York: Sheed & Ward]

The author quoted above was a speaker for an organization called The Catholic Evidence Guild based in London during the middle of the last century. He was dedicated to evangelization and formed an apostolate to train like minded Catholics to carry out this task. He was aware of how often faithful and practicing Catholics were simply unable to respond to the most fundamental questions posed to them regarding their Faith. They might be able to feed back a memorized response from the Catechism, but hardly more. "While a virtuous man might be ignorant", he quipped, "ignorance itself, was not a virtue."

Above and beyond the questions posed by individuals, whole societies were in upheaval; corrupting or rejecting the Faith. Radical movements such as National Socialism (Nazism) and atheistic Communism were advancing. The faithful needed a greater understanding of their Faith in order to counter certain claims: namely, that many of man's problems could be solved simply by unburdening ourselves of past structures, including Faith and Religion.

The problem of viewing the world without the perspective of faith has become even more troublesome today. Ideologies that, for example, seek to control population with a heavy hand, or cure disease, using techniques that cause mankind even deeper afflictions, are a few of the agendas being promulgated in the name of modern advancement.

As the general population has become more literate in a worldly way, they have declined in religious literacy. If both eyes were illiterate that would be bad enough. But to have a weaker spiritual eye is nearly disastrous both for the individual and for the society. A lost sense of balance between reason and faith has caused many to turn their back upon revealed truth; while openly accepting foolish and trendy notions of morality.

Under the banner of 'democracy and freedom' we have a responsibility as citizens with a free will; to make judgments and form opinions; weigh alternative solutions to complex problems; vote on public policies; etc. Perhaps now more than ever we need clear and penetrating vision that comes from having, the eye of reason and the eye of faith, properly focused. As the psalmist praises, 'O Lord, in your light, we see light.'

Our greatest aid in recognizing moral truth with clarity is of course our mother, the Church herself. She is endowed with the skill and desire to gaze on life's concerns with love and insight and to discover the Creator's will for us. Our Franciscan spirituality in particular, shows us also, that reliance on secular knowledge alone is not enough. We become trapped in faithless solutions to some of life's most vexing problems. Our Lord gave us deeper insight when he explained to his disciples...this demon can only be expelled with prayer and fasting.

And so we are engaged in a world which boasts of having thrown off its shakles of religion and faith and become 'enlightened'. Ironically, we seem to be in a circumstance where relying on 'reason' alone in dialogue has lost its effect, mostly eye is nearly blind.


Anonymous said...

I find it a challenge, as a christian, to know just how much knowledge of what is in the world or what is going on in the world do I need to know so as to be able to reasonably respond (or at least keep up) to social concerns.
And where does one find the truth about what is going on in our world? Who do I believe (in the news media)?

Anonymous said...

"...the demon can only be expelled with prayer and fasting... " needs to be applied in so many smaller areas of life to become a habit and effectual in the larger things in life.